Making transit websites accessible to all — Trillium’s report for enabling screenreader access

People who are blind or low-vision use screenreader software that reads text from web-pages aloud. This technology potentially makes the world’s information more available, but only if web-pages have been correctly formed to allow screenreaders to access their contents.

Federal laws require for local government websites to be accessible to people with disabilities, and further requirements apply for entities that receive federal funding (Section 508).

Websites that are accessible to people who are sight-impaired serve all users better. As a rule, these websites are compliant with the HTML standard (the language of the web) and contain real data rather than image-only representations. What this means is that these websites show up more often in search engines. The websites also load faster and are more broadly compatible with older and newer versions of web-browsers. In short, they provide more robust usability for everyone.

Despite the requirements and advantages, this does not minimize the difficulty in making a transit website accessible — because accessibility features are in the code of a web-page — they are, so to speak, invisible to the naked eye. Trillium’s report “Transit Website Accessibility” presents a digest of best practices, incorporating findings from interviews with transit riders who are blind. Because timetables are particularly important, the report dedicates particular attention to how ensure they are accessible.

Read the full report here. Drop a line if you find this useful for have questions.

Aaron is the founding principal of Trillium Solutions, Inc. He brings experience that includes 12 years of web-development with 8 years in public transportation, with knowledge of fixed-route transportation, paratransit, rural transportation, and active transportation modes. Aaron is a recognized expert in developing data standards, web-application design, digital communications, and online marketing strategy. He originally developed Trillium’s GTFS Manager, and has played a key role in the development of the GTFS data specification since 2007.